Guitar Playing Tip

Playing Live / Performance

I want to Introduce you to my friend Greg Serrato... Greg was kind enough to offer to write us an article on Playing Live and Performance Tips. Greg Serrato, referred by some as “The Tornado”, is a Native American (Apache) high-powered blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter who takes command of the stage with his ferocious fret work and hard driving sounds. Hailing from southern California, (Anaheim) he is regarded by as one of the most talented blues-rock guitarists in the world today. He has become a force to be reckoned with and has generated a strong fan base in and around the United States. Serrato has recorded nine CDs to date. Three of which were nationally distributed by the Navarre Corporation. - Riffmaster

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Guitar Tab

Performing - By Greg Serrato/ USA Blues Rock Guitarist

You’ve worked your tail off learning and perfecting your licks and investing serious coin into your tone. You’ve spent countless hours honing your craft and getting your band tighter than shrink-wrap on a cd.

Now, you’ve just landed the gig that will put you in front of hundreds, possibly thousands of paying music fans anticipating to be blown away by your presentation. Has all your hard work paid off? Or is something missing from your quest to conquer the audience?

This article will cover some essential do’s and don’t when performing. Regardless of your genre of music, this can apply to any performer, especially guitarists and front men/women.

The first questions I ever asked myself prior to performing in front of any audiences was;

“If I was watching myself play the guitar or attending a show watching another guitarist, what would I want to see and hear?”

“What would it take in order for me to be blown away?”

Answering those questions, first, gave me the vision of what I needed to do as a performer.

Your stage presence is a combination of how you carry yourself, how you connect with the audience and how your choice of gig wear reflects your inner soul, the personality of your music and that of the band as a whole.

You’ve heard the term “connecting with the audience.” That is one of the most important aspects to consider when performing live. Looking down at the neck of your guitar the whole night only means you either are not ready for the big show or are too freaked to glance into the audience for fear of hitting a wrong note.

I’m sure we’ve all had similar experiences at some point. The fact of the matter is fans want to be recognized by you just as much as you do by them. Your fans want you to notice them, not ignore them. So, toss a look every now & then and let them know you appreciate them being there. What the heck, throw them one of your picks? Find someone in the audience to connect with and before you know it, you’ll find another and then another.

And for god’s sake, don’t just stand there looking bored or scared!

I’ve seen some ok guitar players throw a dynamite show out to the audience simply because they performed with a lot of enthusiasm.

On the flip side, I’ve witnessed players from the University Of Guitar Gods, who knew the fret board like the remote for their television, bore the audience into leaving early because they played with very little personality. Technical ability is great, but this isn’t engineering class, this is performing!

Now, what to do when your big solo is creeping upon you or are about to feature your big guitar instrumental. Play it safe? Or go for the throat? I adopted the concept many years ago to “Take Chances!” The only way you are going to attain a higher level of playing at the performing level is to play with as much enthusiasm, heart and imagination as you can muster up.

Ok, so you’ve recited your solo to perfection. However, be prepared for when you go into brain freeze and forget what you worked so hard on to share with your adoring fans. That’s when heart and imagination kick in.

In addition to your rehearsed structure, play from your heart and what you hear in your head. As an option to starting a scale from point A and working it through all the little avenues of notes to your final destination, try skipping a few streets and take a few alleys on the way.

Be different in your playing and how you execute your note selection. Try not to be predictable when executing your scales.

Create new things that fit your style of playing. Then, you will begin to create your own style and become unique as a guitar player. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can accomplish by following those simple guidelines.

Think of your guitar as your spokesperson. However, when the music has stop and you’re all looking at each other on stage trying to figure out what you’re going to play next, it is imperative you talk to the audience and get them excited to hear the next tune. Structure a few pairs of songs in your set list to go from one to the other without stopping. That shows the crowd you have worked hard on your show and I guarantee you‘ll hear the words “these guys are tight“ from more than just one person.

Some guitar players take performing extremely serious. So serious they lose the sense of having fun. In every stage performance there is a time of seriousness and a time where you go out all and have a blast.

Always be sure to let your fans know you’re having fun!

Serrato - What You Do To Me

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Shredding is one thing but you should also be able to knock out a backing groove and stay in the pocket (tempo). A good guitarist does both. When practicing, break up your routine and don't just concentrate on solos.- Riffmaster

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Updated: 3/5/07